December 17, 2021
The Warriors and Suns hot starts have been the two big storylines this season but we are starting to see some other contenders emerge in both the East and Western Conference.
The Bucks got off to a slow start after winning the title last season and look like they have fully recovered from their Championship hangover and are now 2nd in the East at 19-11. The Nets are still the favorites to win the title at +260 despite still being without Kyrie Irving, who is still out due to his refusal to get vaccinated. Head over to our Strategies Page if you want to get more tips on how to take advantage of the NBA action this weekend.
The Nets, Warriors, Bucks, and Suns look like the main favorites to win the title this year and are playing at a very high level early in the season. Health will play a big factor down the stretch as each of these teams has had key players battle significant injuries over the last couple of years.
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The Warriors are still out on the East Coast and face the Celtics in Boston in what should be a fun game to watch between teams with contrasting styles. The Celtics are in the mix in the East and only 6 games out of first and have shown some life under new head coach Ime Udoka. Steph Curry broke the all-time 3 point record in New York on Tuesday and this could be a trap game that the Warriors may overlook. The Warriors head to Phoenix for another big matchup with the Suns on Christmas Day and after a week on the East Coast, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them drop a game to either the Celtics or the Raptors in Toronto Saturday before they head back west.
The Cavs have been one of the biggest surprises in the East and head to Milwaukee in a big Eastern Conference matchup. Darius Garland is averaging 19 ppg and Jarrett Allen and Collin Sexton are both averaging over 16 points for a deep Cavs roster that has 8 players averaging double figures. The Bucks are rolling once again and Giannis has been on a tear in the last couple of weeks and has his average up to 27 ppg.
An old-school rivalry may have legs again as two of the top teams from the 1990s and 2000s face off in Chicago. The Lakers are finally gelling on offense and have won 3 in a row as Lebron James is finally back to full health. The Lakers aging roster may have a tough time keeping up with the Bulls team speed that features Lonzo Ball and Zach Levine in the frontcourt and veteran Demar Derozon on the wing. DeRozan is having one of the best seasons of his career and is thriving in a primary scoring role with the Bulls squad.
The East is loaded with contenders this year for the first time in years and while the Bucks and Nets are at the top of the standings, teams like the Bulls, Cavs, and Heat have the type of rosters that could give both of those teams fits and feature young explosive playmakers.
The Nuggets and Lakers are two teams that find themselves toward the bottom of the West after being favorites to win the conference before the season started. It looks like it will be a tossup between the Suns and Warriors to see which team will end up winning the conference but keep an eye on the Jazz, who are playing great basketball and could emerge as the team to beat in the West if the Suns or Warriors deal with any more injury issues.